Gra-lab - Phosphorescence

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Michael R 1974, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Hi. A little question I always meant to ask about the phosphorescent (glowing) numbers on the face of my good old Gra-lab (my dad bought it circa 1970 and it still keeps perfect time). I've always avoided using it in dark processes (printing, tray-developing film) because I assumed it would fog (particularly film). But at one time it was a pretty popular darkroom timer, so people must have used it in the dark. So what's the deal? Is it just not bright enough to fog paper within a reasonable amount of time? Etc.

    Thanks, Michael
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    I think I'm on my fourth gra lab timer (all used). You're lucky!
    Mine fogs film nicely but not paper (three feet away). I made a flap out of show card that folds down over it when I'm loading/unloading film. If you aren't sure with your paper, just lay out a photogram for a few minutes and process the results.
     
  3. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The dark adapted human eye is very sensititive, far more sensitive than any phoitographic emulsion. What appears to us as being bright is not going to effect anything in the dark room. I have loaded film into a tank only to notice after I finished that there was enough illumination for me to see shapes around me. Never experienced any liight fog.
     
  4. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    mine is 4 feet away and has never fogged film or paper. it's too dim unless you place the glowing numbers right on top of the emulsion.
     
  5. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Interesting responses. I would have thought for sure it would fog film even if it was too dim for paper. I might have to test it and see what happens. It would certainly be great if I could tray-develop film with a timer I could actually see :smile:
     
  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I did have a time-o lite fog film at a distance of about 1' - 400 iso c-41 highly curly old film fighting to load it so on the dry desk in front f this timer for much longer than usual. I set it down to relax before trying to get it to load right, and ended up with shadowed sprocket holes printing onto the next layer on the reel.
     
  7. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    I place the Graylab 300 timer about 20” (about 50cm) above my developing trays on a shelf. The shelf overhangs the trays. The timer is high enough and far enough back on the shelf so that there is no direct line from any part of the phosphorescent face to the trays, yet the timer is still close and easy to see. Any light coming directly from the timer face towards the trays is intercepted by the forward part of the shelf.

    Apparently, whatever light reflects off of various surfaces is far too weak by the time it reaches the open try to have any effect on my films or papers. The fastest sheet film I use is ASA 320 or ASA 400 and is developed in the same trays as papers. I don’t see any fogging effect on these relatively fast films, which are likely more light sensitive than the papers.
     
  8. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    So far I've had no problems with the Gra-Lab timers fogging anything, film or paper. To be on the safe side, I keep them a good 6' from my loading/printing area. And I have four of them up on the wall so that I can time multiple processes when printing (one for dev, one for stop/wash/fix/clear, one for second dev, etc).
     
  9. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I wonder if it can really be used when developing film in open trays vs loading film (developing obviously exposes the film for anywhere from 7 to 25 minutes in my case minutes before it is fixed).

    One thing that could help is the glowing fades pretty quickly on my Gra-lab, down to very dim but still visible levels. Presumably this is because it is 40+ years old.

    All these years I've developed sheet film without a visible timer, just a metronome and counting the minutes in my head!! Talk about adding stress to the process: "wait was I at 6 minutes or 7 minutes". It's like counting long rests when playing music. Stop concentrating for a few seconds and you're in trouble.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2012
  10. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    I tray develop in front of mine, well, always. Never noticed any fogging from it. I used to turn it almost sideways against the wall but I couldn't tell a difference in the negatives so I just leave it as is.
     
  11. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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  12. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Ian - actually I kind of like it the worn out way it is - dim but bright enough to see. If anything it could reduce the risk of fogging.

    Some experiments are definitely in order... Thanks for the feedback everyone.
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Never had a problem with my Gra-Lab but I still pull a flap of black duvetyne down over the face when I have film out in the darkroom.

    I know that, for short periods of time, it won't make a difference unless you have super high-speed film but, for the ease and simplicity of covering the clock, it's good insurance.

    Yes, like others, I have forgotten to cover the clock and have handled film with no ill effects.

    My clock is nearly ten feet away from the bench where I handle film and three or four feet away from where I develop prints. Have not had a problem, yet.
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Even though it goes against common wisdom and experience, I've removed (acetone) the glowing numerals from both of my Gra-Lab timers.

    When I built my darkroom I made the decision to make it honest-to-goodness dark. Meaning, a complete absence of light. Meaning, I can stand in there for hours and still not see a single photon. No glow tapes. No LED indicators. No lighted switches. No light leaks. Nothing. The door frame was selected because it hermetically seals like a fridge. The counters all have generously rounded corners to prevent injury. And I can take my sweet time loading or unloading 8x10 holders with hundreds of dollars worth of sheet film laying about and never have to worry at all.

    Call it sensory-depravation insanity-inducing dark.

    Works for me...

    :tongue:

    Ken
     
  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I got one back in 1971. I don't use it much, but it sits on the bench near the enlargers and about five feet away from where I load film. I've never had any problem with fogging because of it, even with 3200 speed film. I guess if I laid a sheet of film on top of it for a few seconds, it would get exposed, but at several feet there doesn't appear to be a problem.
     
  17. jk0592

    jk0592 Member

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    I never had problems tray developing paper 3 feet away from my venerable Gralab 300 timer which I bought new in 1969.
    But recently started large format, and while loading/unloading film in 4x5 holders or developing 4x5 sheet film in open trays, the Gralab300 is put it away so as not to risk fogging the film.
     
  18. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Michael, I've lost the count of how many times I've lost the count. Funnily enough, I don't think I was actually ever off in my counting, but the stress and the darkness-induced self-doubt were not worth it. I bought this little process timer: http://www.rhdesigns.co.uk/darkroom/html/processmaster.html

    It comes with a foot switch, and it beeps to tell me when to agitate, and when I am 10 secs from the end of a stage in a process sequence. For film processing, I turn it upside down, so I work by sound only. For paper, it seems quite safe. As an extra, it comes with a temperature probe, which adjusts the "speed" of the passage of time as a function of deviation of the temperature from the aim of 68F. You may have seen John Sexton use a similar device when processing paper in developer. This one is more customisable than the no-longer-made one that John has, and it allows a choice of 4% and 8% temp rate adjustments.

    Stress no more.
     
  19. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    These will absolutely, positively, unequivocally fog certain films given too close proximity or long enough tray time, just as will LED timers. Maybe you think they have no effect, but your shadow
    values might well be off because of it, or some day you'll be experiementing with a different film or
    developer and wonder what went wrong. I put timers under the sink, and anywhere else angle them
    so the film or paper can never actually "see" them. Definition of a darkroom = DARK.
     
  20. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    "Dark" is a binary condition. As Yoda said, it either is, or it is not. There is no try...

    :smile:

    Ken
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have never had a problem with a Gra-Lab timer fogging paper.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Phosphorescent markers on these timers will fog faster pan films and color paper. The timers should be kept at least 4 feet (1,1 meter) away from any film or pan paper.

    PE
     
  23. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Anecdotally, my A-R-T (like Time-O-Lite) and GraLab timers do not fog my film. But they are 4 feet away.

    Sometimes when I set the GraLab the safelight comes on, which isn't exactly what I wanted. When that happens, I abort developing and move the film to fix. (Usually happens late in development anyway just setting the time for fix).
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Bill;

    You know that you can go into a stop or running water rinse and then fix without setting the time. Wait until you turn the lights on! I count off 1' for stop and 1' for the fix, then set the fix clock 1' shy.

    PE
     
  25. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    A baffle is easy to construct to shade your film-developing area.

    Unless you count seconds with a metronome, like Micheal R does (and I do as well in my European darkroom), you need to see something, either the phosphorescent hands of your GrayLab or the red LEDs on my Zone VI Compensating Developing Timer. Just keep it as far away from the film as practical and build yourself a baffle out of cardboard, etc. to shade the work area. You could even put the timer deep inside a box as long as you could still see the hands.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  26. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    much more sensitive! paper as an iso of about 3